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The story of the Four Seasons: ‘Jersey Boys’ coming to Eisenhower Auditorium

Courtesy photo Scenes from the musical “Jersey Boys” are above and below. The Tony-winning musical will be at University Park’s Eisenhower Auditorium Jan. 28. The show features hits including “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Oh What a Night,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and “Working My Way Back To You.”

The national tour of Tony-winning musical “Jersey Boys,” the autobiographical tale of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons comes to Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park, Jan. 28.

The cast is lead by Eric Chambliss, a mid-westerner transplanted to New York City, who is in his second tour as Bob Gaudio. Other cast members are Corey Greenan as Tommy DeVito, Jon Hacker as Frankie Valli, and Michael Milton as Nick Massi with Andres Acosta, Justin Albinder, Ashley Bruce, Kenneth Quinney Francoeur, Katie Goffman, Connor Lyon, Kevin Patrick Martin, Sean McGee, Hamilton Moore, Bruno Vida, and Amy Weaver.

Directed by two-time Tony winner Des McAnuff, âJersey Boysã is written by Academy Award winner Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and choreography by Sergio Trujillo. Since the tour launched in 2006, âJersey Boysã has been booked into 250 cities in 49 states and has played over 4,900 performances.

Gaudio, a member of Songwriters Hall of Fame, won a Grammy for the “Jersey Boys” cast album. He frequently drops in on the show, Chambliss said during a phone interview. The tour started in mid-October and runs through mid-May — ending in Honolulu — with stops all across the country.

“He (Gaudio) makes appearances when it fits with his schedule,” Chambliss said. But Chambliss isn’t intimidated by the living icon.

“He’s not the type to say play me this way.” He has his people that he trusts who put together the production. As he’s always been, he’s more concerned about how the Frankies are doing. His career was centered around Frankie’s and what he could create for Frankie and that still holds true today. He (Bob) does a nice job supporting production.”

Reprising his role and knowing the living-breathing is beneficial.

“I feel over time with any role, the more you get to sink your teeth into something and the more you are able to play with it and focus in on little details. We get to do the show nightly and a lot more becomes clear. You can try different things and see what works and doesn’t work. … over time you’re refining what you do. And, the longer you get to play a role like Bob you get to understand his mind and how he approaches things and it comes out in different ways.”

The production uses “authentic Jersey language” and is integral to the story because “this was the community and lifestyle they led,” he said. What he finds interesting, Chambliss said, is how different audiences in different areas of the country react to certain lines and curse words.

“That’s one of the most beautiful things about life in collaborative art,” he said, no two performances are identical.

The show draws a diverse age range with many intergenerational families attending.

“We address the audience and the whole thing is narrated by the four of us so you get four different parts of the story from four different points of view. It draws the audience in and the audience becomes a part of the story.”

It’s also interesting to watch audience members — especially younger ones — recognize the music in the show because so much of Valli’s music and the Four Seasons are woven into the fabric of society through commercial jingles and inclusion in popular movies through the decades.

“At some point, everyone recognizes something from their vast catalog of songs. That is one of the fun things to watch as we play a song and the recognition comes,” Chambliss said.

As a freshman or sophomore in college, Chambliss attended a Jersey Boys tour performance when it came to Chicago, near where he was attending college as an engineering major.

His theatrical career started in high school and continued during college but “Becoming a professional actor wasn’t on my radar,” he said, but “it was a really amazing fresh piece of theater and I started to think about acting as a career after seeing it.”

It prompted him to leave calculus and applied mathematics behind and make his weekend work at a theater company his full-time focus.

“I liked Engineering but it wasn’t something I was passionate about,” he explained, so he changed his major to theater arts.

It is his hope that he in turn will inspire a love of the performing arts in another young person through his performance. At the very least, he said, “you’re doing a performance that will be a lasting memory for people.”

Mirror Staff Writer Patt Keith is at 949-7030.

If you go

What: “Jersey Boys”

When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28

Where: Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park

Tickets: Adult $68, $59; University Park students, $50, $41; ages 18 and younger, $51, $42; 863’0255, 800-ARTS’TIX; artstix @psu.edu; Group sales: 863-0389

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